Review by Sean Boelman
For much of its runtime, Hunter Hunter is a suspenseful but generic psychological thriller, but it sticks the landing in a way that audiences won’t soon forget. Impressive in its style more so than its substance, this is the type of brutally fun thriller that will make waves among the midnight crowd.
The film follows a family whose tranquil life as fur trappers is threatened when they begin to suspect they are being hunted by a vicious rogue wolf. At first, it seems as if this is going to be a man versus wild type of movie, but as the story progresses and the paranoia begins to set in, it becomes clear that there is more to it than that.
In a way, this is a slow burn, but not a traditional one. The first hour or so is very tense due to the audience, along with the characters, not knowing what is really happening. Normally, one would expect the suspense to ease off as soon as things start to fall into place, but Shawn Linden ups the ante, delivering one of the most impressive finales of the year.
The movie’s one significant shortcoming is that the character development is relatively thin. The protagonist is compelling as a mother trying to protect her family, but there are very few times in which she breaks outside of the desperate mother archetype. Camille Sullivan gives a fine performance in the role.
Devon Sawa has the main supporting turn as the father of the family who sets out to find the wolf and kill it before it can do any more damage. Sawa is as fun to watch as ever, giving a performance that is enjoyably brooding, but the character unfortunately doesn’t take him to any particularly interesting places.
There is also a subplot involving some local cops, and that is basically a non-starter. While Linden’s intentions with this storyline are obvious, and it ties in nicely to the ending, it isn’t entirely necessary and often feels like filler. Without this portion of the film, the story still could have felt complete.
It is definitely on a technical level that the movie is most impressive. Linden shoots the film in a way that is dark and atmospheric. Even though there are only a few moments of brutality, they are absolutely shocking and used in a way that is completely effective. The soundtrack also does a wonderful job of setting the mood.
Hunter Hunter starts out as a very simple movie but delivers in unexpected ways. Shawn Linden’s film is one of the most surprising genre flicks of the year, a can’t-miss for those looking for a thrilling watch.
Hunter Hunter hits theaters and VOD on December 18.
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